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Allegedly, Annes heart was torn out after execution & Henry secretly kept it in a heart-shaped casket in a church alcove in Suffolk. Is this true?

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I've never heard of Anne's heart being kept by Henry but I think the legend that you're referring to is the Salle Church legend. The Reepham Benefice website, of which Salle Church is a member quotes the 1858, ‘Notes and Queries’, written by B. B. Wiffen (page 119) as saying:-

“It is said in Mrs. Strickland’s ‘Queen’s of England’ (Volume 4, page 203), that there is a tradition in Salle in Norfolk that the remains of Anne Boleyn were removed from the Tower and interred at midnight, with the rites of Christian burial, in Salle Church, and that a plain black stone without any inscription is supposed to indicate the place where she is buried. Sharon Turner, in ‘History of the Reign of King Henry VIII, volume 2, page 264, cites the following passage from Crispin’s account of Anne Boleyn’s execution, written 14 days after her death:

“Her ladies immediately took up her head and the body. They seemed without souls, they were so languid and extremely weak, but fearing that their mistress might be handled unworthily by inhuman men, they forced themselves to do this duty; and though almost dead, at last carried off her dead body wrapt in a white covering”.

You can read more about this in my article at https://www.theanneboleynfiles.com/where-is-anne-boleyn-buried/4891/

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3 thoughts on “Allegedly, Annes heart was torn out after execution & Henry secretly kept it in a heart-shaped casket in a church alcove in Suffolk. Is this true?”

  1. bethany.x says:

    I’ve heard something about the heart-shaped casket. A while ago I saw it on TV. In a church they’d found a heart-shaped casket and apparently some people thank it’s Anne’s.

    1. Claire says:

      Hi Bethany,
      There are two main legends regarding Anne’s remains being moved from the Tower:-

      1) St Mary’s Church, Erwarton, Suffolk, legend – According to this legend, Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII often stayed at Erwarton Hall in Suffolk and Anne loved the place so much that she gave instructions that her heart should be buried in the local church. In 1838, during renovations at St Mary’s church, a heart-shaped casket was found set into an alcove in the north aisle. A plaque at the church explains how this casket was reburied beneath the church organ. Legend has it that Sir Philip Parker of Erwarton Hall, Anne’s uncle, was the one who buried Anne’s heart there.

      2) The Salle Church legend – The Reepham Benefice website, of which Salle Church is a member, quotes the 1858, ‘Notes and Queries’, written by B. B. Wiffen (page 119) as saying:-

      “It is said in Mrs. Strickland’s ‘Queen’s of England’ (Volume 4, page 203), that there is a tradition in Salle in Norfolk that the remains of Anne Boleyn were removed from the Tower and interred at midnight, with the rites of Christian burial, in Salle Church, and that a plain black stone without any inscription is supposed to indicate the place where she is buried. Sharon Turner, in ‘History of the Reign of King Henry VIII, volume 2, page 264, cites the following passage from Crispin’s account of Anne Boleyn’s execution, written 14 days after her death:

      “Her ladies immediately took up her head and the body. They seemed without souls, they were so languid and extremely weak, but fearing that their mistress might be handled unworthily by inhuman men, they forced themselves to do this duty; and though almost dead, at last carried off her dead body wrapt in a white covering”.

      You can read more about these legends in my article at https://www.theanneboleynfiles.com/where-is-anne-boleyn-buried/4891/

  2. Molly Housego says:

    I think the term ‘torn out’ is a little strong. It was an accepted Catholic practice of the time to have one’s heart buried elsewhere if one so wished it. This request would not have been an unusual one for the times.

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